WHAT IT IS: The Sienna is Toyota’s minivan that is now in its fourth generation, which premiered as a 2021 model. One of the big changes was that all Sienna vans are now powered by a hybrid motor, so we are talking about a full 36 MPG on both the city and the highway. The towing capacity of 3,500 pounds even remains the same as the outgoing model. The hybrid setup in the Sienna doesn’t require you to plug in the vehicle, it uses regenerative braking to capture energy and gives you a 60 horsepower boost when accelerating.
Available in six trims with a price spread of $34,710 to $50,150, my XSE test model fell in the middle at $42,250. The XSE is Toyota’s sport-tuned version, which sounds silly, but certainly makes the minivan more interesting to look at. Dark 20-inch wheels, dark grill and accents, LED headlights, and a SofTex sports interior that offers some cool contrast stitching.
One of the best things about minivans is their utility, and it was refreshing and enjoyable to have tons of storage space and much thoughtfulness taken at every step. The huge center console between the front seats has USB ports inside to charge devices, but those USB ports also have an LED light on them to let you know exactly where they are. They also offer a 1500-watt 120-volt outlet in the rear cargo area, which would be immensely useful for camping or tailgating. One feature I found interesting was Driver Easy Speak, which you can toggle on and off, and uses a microphone to transmit your voice over the car’s speaker to rear occupants. Instead of turning around to yell that you’ll “Turn this van around!” you can communicate easily without taking your eyes off of the road.
The ride quality is extremely comfortable and there is plenty of pep with the hybrid drivetrain. AWD is available, and for 2022, there is a new Woodland Edition trim that offers a slight lift for extra ground clearance. Toyota is able to sell so many vehicles that their consumer sometimes get spoiled for choice when it comes to more interesting options (like the XSE), because even if they only sell a relatively small % of them, those numbers really add up.
Toyota does offer a Limited trim ($46,950) and a Platinum trim ($50,150) that offer niceties like leather seats, premium stereo and a Head-Up Display if you are looking for a more luxurious minivan experience.
Even the lowest trim, the LE ($34,710) offers some great features like dual power sliding doors and push button start (plus that fuel-sipping hybrid drivetrain).
The third row folds flat, so you have plenty of options for storage space for those Costco runs or if you need to put a couple of extra kids in the back.
MPG: 36 city/36 highway
Upsides: Usefulness is off the charts.
Downsides: The unfortunate stigma of driving a minivan.
Wrap-up: If you want a crossover, Toyota does sell the Highlander which is a great car, but if you use your car constantly for loading kids and a ton of stuff, then the minivan still reigns supreme. I think that the XSE trim is the one that I would buy, because I think it is the best balance of value and it at least looks interesting. I’m not going to go as far as saying that the Sienna XSE is cool, but I will say it is probably the coolest minivan choice. But that is the thing about minivans — they weren’t designed to be cool; they were designed to be useful, and that is a crown that will be hard to take.